Archive for August, 2007

Progressive Agriculture Farm Safety Day

Posted on August 27, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Progressive Agriculture Safety Day

A while back I was invited by some folks in Richland County, Illinois to come and speak at their Farm Safety Day.  The date was set for August 25th and I would speak to some kids 9 years old and up as well as speaking during a special session just for the parents.   What I was to talk to them about was the dangers of methamphetamines.  This would be the first time they would have a speaker come in and basically give a life story, it was also the first time that they were doing a parents’ session.

On Friday the 24th, I drove down to Olney, Illinois right after work arriving in town right around 7:30 p.m. Illinois time.  Now I did expect to see corn fields but holy cow!  When I got off of I-70 in Greenup to go south on Rt. 130 I didn’t expect to see about 40 miles of nothing BUT corn!  Regardless, it was a good safe trip and I enjoyed the 3 hour drive.

The folks putting on the event put me up in the Super 8 Motel for the night and let me tell you something, I’ve been in some fine, high class hotels and none of them could top the shower in this one.  I took a 30 minute shower and washed myself twice!  No aroma-therapy candles and soap, no salon shampoos and conditioners but damn.  They had this setting on the shower head that felt just like rain, not too hard, not too light.   Absolutely perfect.  And it was soooo spacious.  No hitting the walls with your elbows, no brushing the curtain with your tush, oh man it was great. 

Anyway, Deputy Sheriff Michael Burton (the guy who got me involved in this) met me at the motel after serving a warrant and we went to Burger King to talk about stuff.  Unfortunately he had to go back to the place where he just served that warrant so I went back to the hotel and the rest of the night consisted of myself and Lauren chatting on Maurice’s Message Board.

Well the big day was here and my first group was the parents. Michael Burton introduced me and warned the adults that this session (which was an hour and lasted the longest) was going to be uncensored.  It seemed to me that it went over well.  These are good decent people who truly care for their kids and their community.  Their questions were on point and it was amazing to learn how many of them had already been effected by meth and its manufacture.  I even got interviewed on live radio!  How cool is that?

The kids were amazing too.  I expect to have inattentive kids in the bunch.  I expect to have smartass kids in the bunch.  These kids all paid attention and were very respectful as I talked and afterwards when the questions came (well, they came from the nine year olds).   Hopefully it had the intended effect on them.  I go in knowing full well that these kids are eventually going to make their own decisions in life, I just want them to make an informed one.  Information that comes from a first source is usually the best.

I must say that those folks in Olney really know how to feed a brother.  It was the first time I ever had Pork Burgers.  OMG those were some of the best things I’d ever eaten, I was told that they were fresh too.  I mean fresh as in the pig may have been slaughtered that morning or the night before.  Damn that was good stuff.  After the speaking sessions I said my good-byes to some of the staff that was working there and went with Michael Burton to a steakhouse in town…mmmmm….prime rib.  Then we went for a drive around some of the county to look at where they are storing the anhydrous ammonia tanks, where the cooks are getting the iodine tincture and muriatic acid (all three are ingredients for meth), and also took me by some places that had been busted too.

It’s a sad situation out there.  It’s like half the county is being devastated by it.  I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the Sheriff’s department out there for taking the problem to the troublemakers themselves.  One thing that I hope to see is the citizenry making the dope dealers and dope users scared of them rather than vice-versa.  I’m looking forward to going back.  The Sheriff is going to talk to the school Superintendent about bringing me in to talk to the entire High School.  That will be fun I’m sure.  Doing this kind of thing (reaching out to the kids and adults) is something I always consider exciting. 

A big thanks to all of the Orange Shirts at the Farm Safety Day who made me feel so welcome, a big thanks to Brenda Dehlinger who was kind enough and brave enough to invite me to speak to her groups.  Thank you to the parents who came up to me afterwards and thanked me.  Thank you to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department:  Andy, Robbie, Brandon and Dennis.  You gentleman were more than kind and considerate and you’re doing a great job, I know it’s hard but you’re fighting the good fight.  And last but not least thank you to Michael Burton for basically baby-sitting me for a day and a half and showing me around.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time with you and I look forward to meeting with you again in the future.  Everyone was great and more than accommodating.  I look forward to coming back.



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Dear San Francisco Giants Fans

Posted on August 9, 2007. Filed under: Me and only ME ranting, Uncategorized |

Dear San Francisco Giants Fans,

                My hats off to you for a great last couple of baseball seasons.  Now I’m not referring to your won-loss record or your standings (with only 51 games left in the season you are still back 13 ½ games back in the NL West, I’m not poking fun, after 6 outstanding seasons my World Series Champs St. Louis Cardinals are 6 ½ games out in the NL Central).  What I’m talking about is how you all have handled yourselves during this whole Barry Bonds mess.  You have been packing the seats and cheering your man even as the drama swirled round and round the Bay Area.

                I was a fan of Barry Bonds back when he was still a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates playing along with Bobby Bonilla.  I always figured that those two were a force to be reckoned with.  Bonilla, after 16 years in the big leagues, retired in 2001 from the Cardinals organization with decent numbers of .279 avg., 287 homers and 2010 hits.  Bonds on the other hand has managed to stick around for 22 seasons with brilliant numbers of a .298 avg., 756 home runs and 2915 hits.  One more thing Bonds has that Bonilla doesn’t have, a bad reputation.

                With charges of steroid abuse and a well publicized bad attitude, Bonds has made a media darling out of himself.  No matter how hard he tries to run, the media keeps following him and thoroughly enjoys picking apart his every mistake.  Don’t get me wrong, he hasn’t done much to boost his public image (hell, even his teammates don’t like his personality).  In 1998 Mark McGwire (.263 avg., 583 home runs, 1626 hits) laid waste to Roger Maris’ old single season home run record with 70 and Sammy Sosa (.273 avg., 604 home runs, 2387 hits) was following hot on his heels with 66.  In 2001 Barry Bonds hit 24 more home runs than his best season to break the single season record for home runs belting numbers 71 and 72 off of Chan Ho Park, finishing the season with 73.  Now he has the most prestigious record in baseball; he’s now the home run king (756 hrs). 

                As McGwire and Sosa chased down the single season record, crowds in both their home stadiums as well as away would cheer them as they came to the plate.  Bonds on the other hand received consistent boos.  Even as he broke Hank Aaron’s record on August 7th on a 3-2 pitch by Washington Nationals pitcher Mike Bacsik (4.47 ERA, 32 K, 86.2 IP for the season), stadiums around the country welcomed the news with at best a smattering of applause but more often than not it was met with boos.  But you people in San Francisco stand by your man.  One of the shots of Bonds’ historic swing was enough to give me goose bumps:  as Barry watched the ball sail into the outfield bleachers both he and all your fans in attendance raised their arms in triumph at the same time. 

                That wasn’t the end.  Before the game was even finished, ESPN had interrupted its regularly scheduled program, The Bronx is Burning, to start with the questions of legitimacy.  But this is nothing new to you all in The Bay.  From Jose Conseco to Barry Bonds, Northern California is used to baseball controversy.  But you Giants fans kept selling out games, kept cheering for your man.  Even when Bonds refused to take part in the All-Star Game’s Home Run Derby competition (in his home ballpark in front of the only fans that wouldn’t boo him nonetheless) you still stood by him. 

                You Giants fans get a lot of credit from me.  For his many faults you have never left his side, you have never wavered, you have been there to continually cheer him on.  Even though Hank Aaron’s statement was aimed at Bonds, I think subliminally one comment was meant for the fans and his admiration of what you all have had to go through, “It is a great accomplishment which required skill, longevity and determination.”  So once again, congratulations on the past couple of seasons and congratulations for your (sometimes) unswerving dedication to a ball player who, in many people’s minds, will always have an asterisk by any record he holds. 

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Homicide – A Review

Posted on August 6, 2007. Filed under: Reviews |

Homicide – A Review

Reality TV has reached the next step in its evolution.  From COPS to The Real World to Survivor, we have sat on our couches watching regular people in rather un-regular situations.  Homicide has brought us the newest wave in reality TV viewing, regular people solving real problems in this case it happens to be murders.  Homicide is a ten-episode series appearing Tuesdays at 10:00 EST on Spike TV where ordinary people are put to the test of trying to solve a real murder with real life Texas Detective Tommy Le Noir aiding the two teams of contestants and taking every opportunity to point out their forensic shortcomings. 

The two teams are faced with a true homicide that has already been solved.  The crime scene has been recreated with the most important evidence present including blood, bone and brain matter, bodies and other physical evidence linking the original perpetrator to the crime.  Also appearing is the original forensic examiner giving the teams a run down of his autopsy report.  Lastly, the interrogation tapes are recreated and the teams are allowed to watch the more pertinent parts of the questioning.

I said earlier that this is the natural progression of reality TV.  With COPS we saw real people dealing with their real problems, The Real World (Bunim-Murray productions is responsible for The Real World and is also responsible for Homicide) brought us a group of strangers trying to cope with each other, and in Survivor we were presented with real people dealing with each other while competing for something.  Now with Homicide we have real people dealing with other people’s real problems while competing against another team. 

Many people have watched shows like The Closer, Cold Case Files, and of course the many incarnations of CSI.  This show is for those people who would like to put their TV-gained knowledge of forensic sciences to the test.  In a 48-hour period they must use their knowledge and instincts to bring a true crime to a close.  Of course, after having watched the aforementioned shows, the people on the teams think that they know what they should be looking for and what evidence is relevant.  It must be said that it is entertaining to watch people think they know what they’re doing when in all actuality they are absolutely clueless.

In the end the show seems to distract from the fact that a real murder has occurred and real people have lost their lives.  Watching people get together and compete, blundering around a recreated crime scene may be entertaining to some but I’ll take my amusement with a hint of fiction and a whole lot of acting.  If you’re already watching any of the crime shows on TV (i.e. CSI, The Closer, etc.) stick with it, you’re not missing anything and you’re probably getting more from it.

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How Theology Should Work Pt. 2: Theology should bring peace

Posted on August 1, 2007. Filed under: Spiritual Musings, Theological Crap |

This is by far the worst post I’ve ever done.  It has taken me about a month to write it because I just couldn’t get it to work right.  But instead of leaving people w/o a continuation, here it is. 

As a continuation from Part One, Theology should bring peace:

There are many references in the Catholic Tradition to personal as well as communal/worldly peace.  During the Communion Rite of the Mass, the priest says during the Lord’s Prayer: “Deliver us, Lord, from every evil and grant us peace in our day”.  During the Sign of Peace we hear, “Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles, “I leave you peace, my peace I give to you”…grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom where you live and reign forever and ever.” Then he says “The peace of the Lord be with you always (or the shortened version or ‘Peace be with you all’)…”Let us offer each other a sign of peace”.  The last line of the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) we recite “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; grant us peace.” And finally, during the concluding rite, we are told to, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord”. 

So many times and in so many ways we have heard about social action and seeking peace in our time and in our world.  We attend rallies and sign petitions protesting the war.  We call our congressmen and women about challenging the United Nations with ending the violence in Darfur and other areas of the world most of us have never heard of and most of us don’t care about.  We seek to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless in our cities.  When someone in our families is hurting, we usually (and I underline USUALLY) come to their aid.  The search for outer peace is often times shoved in our faces, as a reminder that something must be done about it.  Unfortunately, what seem like the best and easiest ways to go about this aren’t necessarily the most helpful.  One thing that Liberation Theologians such as Leonardo and Clodovis Boff try to make evident is the fact that sending aid and helping those who are oppressed and down-trodden may be making the problem even worse by keeping the people that you are trying to help in the situation that they are in.

Regardless of whether or not we are helping or hurting, every day we are faced with the consequences of and the demands from a world that does not have peace.  Most of us do what we can to work toward bringing peace to others in some way.  One thing I try to do every day is give someone a compliment.  That may not be what another is willing or able to do.  Since I am unable to go to Sri Lanka and try to mediate peace as a single man, I do what I can in my everyday life until I can get to a place where bigger things can happen.

Less talked about is something all of us desire and long for (especially when it is elusive); inner peace.  Theology should bring a sense of comfort that everything will come out in the end.  When bad times come, better times will follow eventually.  It’s a matter of patience and strength.  Many of those who know me know that for the past couple of years I have been in the worst funk of my life.  I hated everything.  I neither sought comfort nor wanted to be comforted by anyone I knew.  But I still had a burning desire for everything to right itself again.

My favorite verse in the entire bible isn’t even a whole verse.  Revelation 22:3a.  Some translations have it, “There will no longer be any curse”.  This is what makes things worth it for me.  This in the end is not what brings the storm to a cessation but it at least helps me to ride it out.  I’m not going to blow smoke in your face and try to convince you that your struggles and worries and fears can somehow magically go away.  I’m not going to say that anxieties and depressions can be solved by simply waving your hand or believing in the right thing.  That is not what inner peace is about.  Inner peace comes from understanding that somehow, someway this will all come to an end.  One day it will all be worth it and the hopes, excitements, dreams, fears, hurts, worries, etc. will all come together and it will all be worth it.  Christian from the book A Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, upon kneeling at the foot of the cross, lost his burden from around his shoulders, but his journey and his trials and tribulations were nowhere near finished. 

This inner peace that we seek isn’t a loss of all that worries us, it is not a loss of all that can defeat us.  It is something that we can gain by understanding that suffering through this latest bout of whatever nastiness life has decided to throw our way is always able to be either overcome or out-waited.  Inner peace is knowing that even though things are out of our control, eventually, some way, good shall return, calm shall return.  Inner peace comes through loving and being loved.

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